Posts Tagged ‘Longform’

David Wolman Explores Italian Earthquake’s Legal Aftershocks

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake ripped through the heart of the central Italian mountain town of L’Aquila in April 2009, killing more than 300 people. To the horror of much of the scientific community, seven scientists and engineers were later charged with manslaughter, accused of misleading the public and creating a false sense of security after […]

Ask TON: How to Build Narrative in Explanatory Stories

Welcome back for another installment of Ask TON. This month we’re talking about how to turn your story’s vegetables into a juicy, tasty stew. You have an assignment to cover new developments in a complicated field. You’ve been following it for a while, so you know the basics and the main players. You know you […]

Michelle Nijhuis’s Nat Geo Adventure Began with a Word

In her first assignment from National Geographic, award-winning freelance science journalist Michelle Nijhuis started with a one-word assignment: coal. Based on that single word, Nijhuis traveled from West Virginia, a top coal state, to China, the world’s largest coal user. No spoilers here, so we’ll just say that a long lag between assignment and publication […]

Daniel Engber Dissects the Ubiquitous Laboratory Mouse

When Slate senior editor Daniel Engber took a month off from his usual duties to research a multi-part series on laboratory mice, he had a thesis—that although the ubiquity of mice as model organisms has clear advantages, it is in some ways damaging to biomedicine. What he needed was stories and characters to hang his […]

How Rebecca Skloot Built The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot needs little introduction to most readers of The Open Notebook: Her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been a bestseller since its publication in February 2010, and she has toured the U.S. and Europe almost constantly since then talking about the book and the many issues of race, science, and privacy […]

John McPhee on Characters, Structure, Titles, and Facing the ‘Low Dread’ of Writing

Is there a science writer alive who has not been schooled by John McPhee? Both of us began our writing careers with a collection of McPhee’s books and articles on our shelves, and over the years, we’ve both returned to his works many times, for pleasure and for sustenance. Writing at the excellent blog The Last […]

Naming the Dog: The Art of Narrative Structure

[Editors’ note: The Open Notebook is doing something new. Since we launched last fall, we have focused on deconstructing the process that goes into individual stories that possess the quality of awesomeness. We love doing these story-behind-the-story interviews and have plenty more in the hopper. But, thanks to a generous grant from the National Association of […]

David Dobbs Deconstructs “My Mother’s Lover”

When journalist David Dobbs’ mother was dying, she shocked her children by asking that her ashes be spread in the waters off the coast of Hawaii, so that she could be with her former lover, “Angus,” who had been shot down over the Pacific in the last days of World War II. This unexpected request, […]

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